Senate Energy Committee clears pro-Keystone XL measure, with Mary Landrieu pointedly leading the charge

In the face of the relentless dillydallying on the part of the Obama administration on the Keystone XL pipeline, Canada went ahead and starting exploring the potential of cutting deals with other markets in Asia — and yesterday, the Canadian government approved their own Northern Gateway pipeline to carry crude from the Alberta oil sands out to the Pacific Ocean for shipment via tankers. There has been some speculation about the possibility of the Obama administration approving the Keystone XL pipeline now that Iraq’s oil output is on seriously unstable footing (although, reality check: The Keystone XL pipeline by itself wouldn’t have enough of an impact on the global oil market to directly mitigate any future disruptions from the Middle East), but I have the gravest doubts that the Obama administration is going to say anything more about the pipeline until after the elections, come what may.

Regardless, Democrat Mary Landrieu has no intention of backing off of her campaign to use the pipeline’s elevated name recognition to differentiate herself from President Obama and tout her ostensible clout as head of the Senate Energy Committee to her energy-lovin’, red-state constituents. Via Time:

Mary Landrieu chairs the Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources, a perch that offered the vulnerable Louisiana Democrat an opportunity Wednesday to mix policy and politics.

With President Barack Obama delaying a decision on the Keystone XL pipeline and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid reluctant to schedule a floor vote on a bill that would subvert Obama’s authority, Landrieu pushed through a committee vote on the controversial pipeline. It passed, 12-10, with Landrieu joining Republicans to vote in favor of the project.

The move could be a political boon for Landrieu, a moderate Democrat locked in a difficult fight to win reelection in the conservative Bayou State. One recent poll found that 67% of Louisiana voters favored construction of the pipeline, with just 12% opposing the project. Nearly four in five respondents cited Keystone as an important issue in the race.

And with Landrieu’s main Republican challenger Bill Cassidy up by three points in RCP’s polling average, I suppose it is a worthwhile political endeavor. As practical endeavor, however — not so much, as Republicans pulling for the Senate majority are wont to point out. Via National Journal:

“I do question the purpose of today’s vote,” said Sen. John Barrasso, who heads the Senate Republican Policy Committee, ahead of the vote in the committee that Landrieu chairs. “With all due respect this vote seems more like a cheerleading exercise than a meaningful effort to get Keystone built.”

“The obstacle of getting Keystone built is Senator Reid and members of the Senate who continue to elect him majority leader,” Barrasso said. …

But Landrieu fired back at the Wyoming Republican before the vote, challenging the idea that she’s merely staging a piece of political theater.

“There was no popcorn and Coca-Cola handed out today in this meeting, and there were no tickets sold to get in here,” Landrieu said, addressing Barrasso directly. “This is the United States Senate.”

But as far as Harry Reid actually allowing a vote on the measure before the midterms? Fuhgeddaboudit, unless somehow some major political calculus changes before November.